Home' South Florida Gay News : SFGN 072215 Contents 30 // 7.22.2015 // SFGN.com //
4 • July 22, 2015
Wilton Manors May
By Michael d’Oliveira
By Michael d’Oliveira
The city’s proposed budget includes
funding one additional patrol officer, but by
the time the budget is approved in September
there may be more.
“We need more boots on the ground,” said
Vice Mayor Scott Newton. Currently, there are
18 patrol officers and four patrol sergeants.
Mayor Gary Resnick agreed with Newton,
saying that if public safety isn’t addressed
“nothing else will matter.”
Policing parks, specifically Colohatchee,
which for years has been used by individuals
to have sex, is also a concern.
The Budget Review Advisory Committee
recommended hiring two part time police
aides to police the parks. To fund the positions,
the committee suggested using the $20,000
budgeted for improving the vacant lots next to
Hagen. Those lots were purchased by the city to
eventually expand Hagen Park.
Newton said he wants a full time park
ranger to oversee Colohatchee in addition to
the two current part time rangers.
“We’ve had a problem with Colohatchee
for a long time,” said Newton. “I’m the vice
mayor of the city and I don’t want to go there.
We have to do something. This commission
needs to get off our rear ends.”
Resnick said Colohatchee, a unique
gathering of mangroves in the middle of built-
out east Broward, used to be one of the parks
he was most proud of when he first moved to
Now, say residents, the park is a magnet for
unwanted sexual behavior that keeps many
“I have pretty much given up on my
neighborhood park,” said resident Carlos
Fernandez who lives adjacent to Colohatchee.
“There’s pimps, drugs . . . I took pictures of two
In addition to more personnel overseeing
the park, Newton suggested redesigning the
bathrooms with one stall to make it harder for
them to be used for sex. He also said the park
would have to be closed temporarily at some
point, for an undetermined amount of time,
to replace the decking, expand the dog park
fencing and possibly remove the basketball
Commissioner Julie Carson said more
oversight also needs to be taken when it
comes to keeping parks clean.
With the cost of the Mickel Park
redevelopment at about $1.6 million,
Commissioner Tom Green cautioned that
the city can’t spend a lot right away on
Colohatchee. “We can’t build two new parks
in two years,” said Green.
“I’m not saying do the whole park at one
time,” responded Newton.
This year’s proposed budget is $31.1
million, an increase of $1.13 million over last
year. The proposed operating millage rate
will stay at 6.0683 but the overall millage has
been reduced by 0.0454 because of reductions
in the debt service. Although revenue will
increase, including $443,439 from a jump
in property values, the fourth highest in the
county, there are also increases in expenses.
Health insurance, pensions, salary increases
and other costs added $650,000 to the budget.
The cost of the water and sewer utilities,
mostly due to capital improvements and debt
service, is also expected to rise, $10.09 million
this year over $9.3 million last year. In 2013,
the cost was $6.5 million. That number, said
resident Paul Kuta, warrants more discussion.
“The time is overdue to have a serious
conversation with Fort Lauderdale (which
provides Wilton Manors with water) about the
components of their cost which lead to their
imposing annual increase of five percent for
water and sewage charges,” said Kuta.
The next budget meeting will be on
Wednesday, July 29 at 6:30 p.m. in the
commission chambers. At the meeting,
commissioners will vote on a tentative millage
rate, preliminary special assessment rates and
hold a budget workshop. WMG
A Broward League of Cities survey
question has Wilton Manors city
commissioners questioning their police
department’s treatment of those arrested
for marijuana possession.
At the July 14 commission meeting,
Mayor Gary Resnick brought up a
Broward League of Cities survey that
asks cities if they are considering a move
to decriminalize possession of small
amounts of marijuana.
based in West
Park that works to
laws, urged the
possession the same
as a traffic ticket.
deputy director of
NORML, said America’s war on drugs has
failed to curb drug abuse and has created
more problems – increased incarceration
rates and convictions that hurt people’s
chances for meaningful employment and
other opportunities. “It makes no sense.
It’s a failed policy.”
Officials asked Commander Gary
Blocker to look into how much money
the city spends, via personnel hours,
on processing individuals arrested for
He estimates between one and two
hours is spent per arrest. That includes
taking the suspect to the county jail in
Fort Lauderdale for processing and filling
out paper work. Last year, he said police
arrested between 200 and 250 people
in Wilton Manors for marijuana-related
charges. He will provide a more detailed
analysis at a future commission meeting.
“You put a dollar amount to that and
you’ve got a persuasive argument [for
decriminalization],” said City Manager
In June, Miami-Dade County
decriminalized possession of 20 grams
or less. That offense now only carries a
$100 fine. In an
Local 10, Miami
Beach Mayor Philip
in favor of the
change. “We don't
smoking on the
streets. That's still
illegal. It's illegal
to distribute or
sell any marijuana
or anything like that. But if someone's
caught with under 20 grams, we don't
want to ruin their lives.”
It might not be as easy for Wilton
Manors to decriminalize though.
City Attorney Kerry Ezrol said the
city may not be able to decriminalize
something the county still wishes to
Resnick, with an eye towards the
possible legalization of medical marijuana
in the future, also wants to look into
passing zoning restrictions on where
medical marijuana can be sold. Some
cities, including Lauderdale-By-The-Sea,
have already passed zoning restrictions.
Public Safety A Top Concern
As Wilton Manors Begins Budget Process
for a full schedule of budget meetings.
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